When we left off last week, Sean and Joseph had barreled out of the house where Cindy lives. Drew nicked both of them with one shot before they slammed past him. They scooped up Ben, who was in the doorway, and tried to stuff him into their jeep. Drew punched out Sean, but Joseph hit him in the back of the head with a baseball bat.
Ben watched Drew’s eyes roll back right before he hit the pavement.
“Drew!” Ben dropping to his knees. “Oh no, oh no, oh no.” Was he dead? He wasn’t moving.
A car door closed behind him. The one red haired guy had stuffed the other into the jeep. Two red haired guys? How was anyone supposed to keep them straight? All Ben knew was the one who had offered him a ride slumped in the shotgun seat, looking about like Drew – eyes closed, mouth open.
The other guy, the one Ben had never seen before, ran to the driver’s side. His door wasn’t even closed good before he drove off, leaving Ben kneeling next to Drew, who still wasn’t moving.
“Drew! Drew, are you all right?” Ben touched the side of his neck. He couldn’t feel anything. Wasn’t there supposed to be a heartbeat or something?
“Benjamin Hammacker! What are you doing?” Ben’s mother stood on the porch, a horrified expression on her face.
“It’s not my fault!” He shouldn’t have said it. She wouldn’t like it. It was the first thing that came to mind. “Mom! Mom, help. I think Drew might be dead.”
Mom ran down the steps and along the sidewalk. Miranda had come out behind her and Vin behind both of them. They all three came running. Mom got to him first. She leaned over Drew, prying his eye open and looking at something, though Ben wasn’t sure what.
“He’s alive, but he might have a concussion. What happened?”
“It was the red haired man. Only there were two of them. And one of them crawled out on Cindy’s roof and yelled at me. And Drew pulled his gun, but he only shot once, but he got them both, but they got away.” He practically stumbled over the words, but his mother seemed to follow him anyway. Then he realized he should have done something, anything, to stop the other red haired man from driving away. “I guess I let him get away.”
“Oh, Honey. It’s all right. You couldn’t have done much.”
That wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He was in middle school now. He wasn’t a kid. Ok, maybe he was partly a kid, but he wasn’t a little kid.
By then Miranda and Vin were there, and a bunch of people, including Cindy, came out of the house next door. They all came and stood around Drew.
Drew groaned. He flung an arm over his eyes. Ben had never been so relieved. He wasn’t dead. He was going to be ok. And even if it was Ben’s fault Drew got hit with a bat everything would be all right.
Everyone was talking. A couple of people laughed in that nervous way grown ups did when they were relieved. Vin helped Drew sit up. Mom fussed over him like crazy and accidentally got him in the side with an elbow.
“Ben, give me a little more room here,” Mom said.
“I’ll help him up.” Vin tried to get close, but Miranda laughed and pushed him back.
“You’re in no shape to help anyone. I’ll do it.”
Ben got pushed to the side, then pushed again until he was on the outside of a circle with Drew in the middle.
Everyone left. Mom and Miranda and Vin went into the house with Drew. Cindy went back to her party, and all her friends went with her except one. It was a middle-age woman with curly blond hair.
She just looked at Ben. Something about her expression made him uncomfortable. It wasn’t pity, but it was kind of like it. She nodded toward the house and said, “You better go in now. They’ll be missing you soon.”
He went. She just stood there and watched the whole way. He stopped in the doorway for one last look, trying to figure out what it was about her that bugged him. Then he went in. As the door closed, he figured it out. She looked at him like she knew something he didn’t. Something he wasn’t going to like.